BAT Hit By FDA Tobacco Comments

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Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, called the FDA's regulatory agenda a "bold and comprehensive vision" that has the "potential to accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use and the death and disease it causes in the U.S". Tobacco stocks fell Friday following the news.

Stocks of cigarette makers plunged after the announcement.

British American Tobacco, which recently bought out the rest of Reynolds American, dived 7% to 64.93, falling intraday to 60.15, its lowest level since January. The FDA is also offering relief on some timelines stated in the May 2016 final rule that extended their authority over additional tobacco products.

"If nicotine levels do go down, people are going to be less inclined to start smoking", said Alyson Kelly with Island Dyes, a Vape Shop in Richmond.

However, some activists say the amount of nicotine in cigarettes needs to be reduced dramatically, and say if nicotine is only reduced a small amount it will just encourage smokers to use more cigarettes. "The big picture here is that cigarettes as we know them could be phased out and e-cigarettes could be a bridge for people to not use cigarettes", he said.

MARTIN: Yeah, to get into this new market instead of relying on addiction basically to increase their sales, to pivot into these other products.

"Until the eventual development of specific proposals, it's too early to understand the practical implications", Simon Evans, spokesman for Imperial Brands Plc, a UK-based tobacco manufacturer that sells Winston and Kool cigarettes, told Bloomberg. "What we are seeing here is that FDA, under the framing of a new approach, is weakening public health protection for e-cigarettes and cigars, and they are punting protection for kids down the road for five years".

Federal officials today announced a dramatic shift in tobacco policy, vowing to slash nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to non-addictive levels while delaying key regulatory action on electronic cigarettes until the summer of 2022.

STEIN: Yeah. You can imagine all kinds of scenarios - high-nicotine cigarettes coming in from overseas or being marketed in other kind of nefarious ways.

The announcements were met with mixed responses from experts, who noted that bans on advertising and the introduction of standardised packaging are not possible in the United States, due to issues relating to the first amendment and freedom of speech.

The FDA seeks to reduce nicotine levels specifically in "combustible cigarettes" and said it will also look at the impact of menthol and other flavor additives on smoking.

The announcement comes on the heels of furious lobbying by the e-cigarette industry to roll back hefty FDA regulations, issued past year, that would have affected e-cigarette products that came on market after February 15, 2007.